tv [untitled] July 15, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm PST
you have a i think a copy of the report i have prepared, and you may have a copy of the power point presentation. i simply want to say i cannot think the department enough for their excitement and enthusiasm about trees and their management. although this is an assessment of urban forestry operations that has recommendations for improvement, you cannot argue with the process we went through. you may recall that you saw in february, we talked about three risk assessment. since that time, i have a chance to start many of the capital projects. i have done three assessments for them. we have worked in the last couple weeks at the parks, and from all of those experiences, i have to give you one editorial comment. to you and members of the staff
and any members of the public listening tonight, please leave the metal tree tags on the trees. if the tree has a tag on it, that is our way of recording information. it is our primary location mechanism, and if the tree has a tag, it does not mean it is going to be removed. it means we have collected information about it. please leave the tags on the trees. with that, let me turn to my assessment of urban forestry operations. in the request for proposals, the description of this part of the project was to provide a set of recommendations with a healthy and sustainable long- term management of san francisco's unique urban parks. let me describe to you that sustainable to me means we will enjoy our parks today and we will not compromise the ability of our children to enjoy those parks in the future.
that means of the aesthetic and environmental, ecological benefits today will not be jeopardized and we will enhance it so our kids have the same experience. i think you have heard many times people speak about the unique urban forests that we have in san francisco, which is a largely planted forest, almost exclusively, and in a large parts that have a dominant tree canopy, that was the planting that occurred in the late 1800's to the early 1900's. i am sure that you have heard many times we are dominated by small number of species from all across the world, but we have a relatively small number of species that formed the dominant canopy of our parks. you may recall when i was here in february i described a native plant as being here when the spanish arrived in 1769, and that is really the defining
point for native compared with non native. i did not realize it was going to be such an exciting topic. non-native plants arrived in san francisco after 1769. and invasive plant is non-native and disrupts the natural system, whether plants or wildlife or habitat. we could have non natives or exotics that can be invasive. not all of them are. i want to make sure that we distinguish among those terms. this is a big picture document. it is a picture about the department's operations rather than pre management at individual parts and facilities. i will be doing assessments and you'll be hearing about these capital projects and others and individual parks. this is a big picture document. the urban forestry unit has three functions. the two primary are to maintain
existing trees, second, plant new trees, and the third function, because it has new and unique equipment, provide a service to other units in the city. it has the burial towers that are convenient for getting into high trees and aerial lights. the one question that has arisen as how many trees the department manages. my estimate is 131,000. that is 30,000, 40,000 more than it estimated numbers the department gave when i started the project. in some ways, you could argue that means the workload is even greater than we thought it was six or eight months ago, and those trees are evenly divided between locations that are in the natural areas program and those outside the natural areas program. 130,000 or so. the urban forestry unit consists
of about 30 staff. we have full-time staff, and the budget is $3.5 million. the staff is divided about equally between maintenance and reforestation, and there is one person who functions as the supervisor. each year, the meat in the staff touches about 1250 trees. if you divide at 65,000 trees outside of natural area programs, you come up with a tree maintenance cycle of over 50 years. that means in graphic terms, if we prune the monterey cypress in front of mclaren lodge this year and prune every other tree that is outside of the natural areas program, it will be 2065 before we come back to the monterey cypress. that is the essential meaning of that. that is a striking finding. part that i have discussed or
checked with have no idea what they're tree maintenance cycle in the parks is. those that do it, seattle shoots to have an 18-year pruning cycle for its trees in its parks. it really operates on a 40-year cycle. that is the only solid example of knowledge about that. what would it take to reduce the pruning cycle? one of the opportunities will be to increase the number of staff who are uprooting trees at the current 1253 per year use. that would require significant additions in urban forestry staff, which i don't think are going to occur, but i simply want to point out to you the current conditions or situations that put the unit and the department are operating under. we would hope, i suppose, that bond money that this project is
part of or rendered the assessments that will follow will be able to take care of some of that remedial work. the urban forestry program operates on a 100% reactive, requested driven mode. whether the requests come from the public through 311 or generated by the staff or department three of t.m.a. system. there is a backlog of about 450 requests which have not been gotten to yet, because the department unit operates on an emergency kind of system. the phone call comes in, a tree or limb is down, take care of it. that means there is never any programmatic pruning. there is never any "we need to prune the trees because they need pruning." that does not get done. is simply an emergency kind of system.
what i have recommended to the department is we try to transition to a 50% reactive, 50% program effort. the way that we do that, the first thing i said, which i had to take out of the report, the department needs to say no, so that when you call or someone calls 311 or the mayor's office calls and says we have a tree down in grand view park or we have a branch that needs to be pruned and might tennis courts are covered with debris, the department needs to say, no, it is on our list and we'll come back to it. that is an education matter, that it would be better for the trees in washington square if all of the italian stone pines could be pruned at one time rather than going on an emergency basis. there are some characteristic of education about what is an emergency and what is not and what is retained compared with not.
some use of the system and identifying pre work, the potential to add volunteers to assist in other operations that the and it takes care of. all of those i think would lead to some effort at going from this 100% reactive to something where is a little more programmatic. i asked kelly cornell, who supervises the crew, where would you go if on monday morning they said, you have the week to yourself, choose where you want to go and you would ever work you think needs to be done. washington square park, pioneer park, one of the first places that you mentioned, very concerned about department of trees that are leaning over grows or extending over roads. he could easily think of examples of where program. in these trees are never going to get proof that unless it is on a programmatic basis.
his best example was the japanese tea garden, where the style of proving that is required of the trees there is special, unique. that is ever going to be an emergency. that was a really good example of how being redacted and only working on emergencies prevents us from doing good tree care in places like the tea garden. that is the comment about our make it signed. let me talk about the standing side, which i have already mentioned about making sure there are trees in our parks for the future. really, the way that we reforest an even-aged city like san francisco is we have to re- plant, and along with that comes removal. we have to make space for new trees. we have been told time and again there are major
assemblages of trees that are mature and we have evidence at golden gate park of the declining tree population. we know that we have a situation where if we're going to have trees in the future, we have to actively plant them. there is really a very almost hidden success story in the department. it is the golden gate park reforestation program, which started in the 1980's and has been continued, pointing about 1000 trees per year. the reforestation and all of identifying sites with the gardners, local partners, preparing and clearing the sites, planting, and going back and doing remedial work. this is a monterey pine that was planted in the 1980's on the west end of golden gate park, about 28 inches in diameter, about 60 feet tall. since that time, it has become a mature tree. you walk among those trees, you
would never know this was a reforestation plot. but you would think you are in the old golden gate park monterey pines, and it is an astonishing experience to have this nurturing over the last 30 years that resulted in these big trees. that is the golden gate park for station plan, prepared in 1980. despite the department's up and downs in terms of the rotation and the number of trees planted every year, it is still ongoing program and a very successful one. the situation is not as successful in the parse and square. the department actually removes more trees than it plants each year in the parks and squares. at least urban forestry operation does. these numbers don't include what i would describe as capital projects like martin spoke to you about. we know there is a regeneration gap there. an example of that, washington square, in 1957, the plan
prepared had about 95 trees to be installed at washington square. there are about 67 now. we know there has been a decline in the tree population there. one of the things associated with that is when the planting gets done for the capital projects, we don't record those numbers, necessarily. it is a simple workflow matter. more importantly, many of the individual properties lack what i would describe as the master planting plans, or master design. i think at pioneer park, there is a good example of a community group developing a master plan that is headed towards working to implementation. you can see alcatraz these days. a similar thing is happening at washington square and the other locations where that will occur. on an individual unit level,
property level, there is a need for design direction in terms of the reforestation program. some things we can do our increase our numbers. by volunteer programs. i think we have heard about the success of the natural areas program and a volunteer efforts, and that success could be duplicating the stewardship on the mountainside in the non- natural areas side. we have other opportunities to partner with nonprofits for planting and other stewardship activities, and then we need to make sure we are recording removals' and plantings wherever they come from, so we are sure about what we have and how we are managing them. the golf courses have minimal planting programs. in fact, there is quite a much larger number of removal of plantings. it has really striking impact on the golf courses because they are dominated by mature trees,
and the trees are born to the plight of golf. we can accept a different experience in golf as trees are removed or if we want to maintain the experience that we have, we need to do something there. one of my ideas was to get concessionaire to pay for tree care and planting, but i don't know that has gotten very far. there are other opportunities elsewhere, other facilities with nonprofits and volunteers with specific interests in golf course properties to do planting and reforestation. they really need direction in terms of golf course master planning, what are we really trying to achieve, just so we're not out there just installing trees in the ground. my summary is really, three components. the maintenance end, we know we need to do a better job of collecting work orders and work information so we can move to
this 50% program, 50% reactive mode. i think if the department were able to achieve that, it would be a very important achievement for tree maintenance in the department and the system. the second thing is we need to build on the success of the golden gate park reforestation plan. that success has been that there has been a continuing annual effort to install trees and make sure they're taking care of. that needs to be extended to the golf courses and the other parks and squares. i believe there is a master plan and design question for each of the properties that needs to be addressed, but we really need to put the same attention to the parks and squares and golf courses at golden gate park has received. finally, we need to find ways to expand the palin. when i have talked about native and non-native plants, we're
making sure we have large canopy trees, that we read place large canopy with large canopy, that there will always be a large tree component to the park's, and then there are other opportunities for other demonstrations and other examples of trees and shrubs that can be used in the system. so that is my summary. with that, i'll take any questions. again, i cannot thank you and the department of. karen tells me is just their job, but it really is denny, and karen and kelly cornell for their willingness and eagerness to help me through these questions. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. commissioner sullivan? >> i just want to highlight three things. one is, this report kind of cries out that there is a huge need for more resources in this
area. i know we are totally research -- resource challenged in this department, but we need to protect the urban forestry division from cuts. then we will hopefully have more resources sunday and bulk up that area. it reminds me a little bit about, not to be dramatic, about global warming. it is a big problem, happen slowly. given the nature of the urban forests, which do not regenerate themselves, if you wait to fix it, it is too late. the other thing i wanted to talk about with something that jim mentioned at the very end, which is the variety of trees we're planting in the parks. the eastern end of golden gate park especially is full of trees that are an interesting and unique, and you don't see them anywhere else in the city. we have not been planting trees like that for a very long time. there was a book about the trees
at golden gate park. the panhandle and the eastern end of the park is full of trees that somebody in the department years ago had a real interest in and we have not been doing that for a long time. nobody has written a book about the trees we have been planting in the parks the last few years, so i think it would be good if we could get some attention on the department at some point. the third thing i wanted to highlight, again, the replanting at the golf courses. that was something i was not aware of because i am not a golfer, but that seems like something is broken their. at sharp park, there is almost nothing. except very mature and dying trees, so we need to have some kind of plan for the parks and squares and especially the golf courses. president lazarus: thank you. i share the view this is an important subject. i regret in a way that it came at the end of the meeting, but it was worth just listening to all.
after all, what are the park's, if not at the beginning, places of nature that you can enjoy i would love to hear you come back as we make project on this fraught, if that is a luxury that we can afford to be kept abreast of it. >> it would be my pleasure. president lazarus: great. ok. >> don't be taking the tags off the trees. >> is there any public comment on this item? seeing none, public comment is closed. and any other commissioner comments? commissioner bonilla: in approving this item, because it is an action item, are we then supporting the recommendations that we do this 50/50 plan and we did the reforestation? what exactly are we approving? those seem like big steps. >> good question. >> the next steps are the
director of operation will work with stack to develop proposed improvements -- will work with staff to develop proposed improvements to develop or achieve some of these items. there is a lot of work to get there. what you're doing is accepting the findings of the report. this is sort of the first time this has been presented to the department. when i went to urban forestry council, we all looked at these numbers and they are tough to take, but they were all very happy this report has been done. it is a document that i think will be helpful as we move forward. so you're director of operations will be working with the general manager to come up with the implementation steps and a plan. commissioner bonilla: those are yet to be determined? >> those are yet to be determined. we would develop the plan, implement improvements, and that
would be in the spring of 2011. commissioner bonilla: ok, which may include some of these elements. >> yes. commissioner bonilla: ok. >> mr. ginsberg? >> i just want to thank the team, danny and rick and caring and gm and kelly. -- and karen and jim and kelly. i feel like i am in class when i listen to jim. commissioner sullivan, thinking long term, echoing the conclusion of the report, is duly noted. i think we obviously have had a lot of conversations about identifying sustainable funding sources, but a subset of that, i think we need to come up with a strategy to figure out how to improve the work we need to do on this front. it is a concept that a lot of
things come before this commission that are divisive. protecting our trees is not. i think if we take that sort of consensus opinion and figure out how to translate that into a policy idea, to dedicate funding for that purpose, i think we could actually take a very significant step in that direction. so i will do it to things, not remove the trap -- not remove the taxgs, and i will be thinkig about what this team how we can comeback with a strategy for augmenting our resources in this area. >> i think the good news is in the last fund, the first time, the city of san francisco was able to come before council and put $4 million in four major tree work. the most important properties that need this work will get a huge shot in the arm. that will start happening over
the next year. there will be removals' and conversations and the public will become more educated about the parks. these are big, new efforts of the commission that will be taking place. commissioner lee: i just want to say the trees have a tireless advocate in commissioner sullivan. it is a service to all of us for the commitment you have to it. thank you. commissioner sullivan: thank you. thank you. >> on that note, there was no public comment? do we have a motion to approve the report? >> i would move. >> second. and all those in favor? >> aye. >> opposed? hearing none. >> item 5, general public comment continued at this time, addressing the commission on items within the future agenda. these are four items that are not on the agenda.
>> good evening, everybody. i know you must be tired, having been here since 2:00, but for the benefit of the commissioners who did not attend the meeting on july 1, i will make my comments. there is absolutely no valid reason that a certificate of appreciation has not been presented to me to date for my priceless gift of the number one the prime location on the waterfront. it was $600,000. everyone thinks me for this fabulous popular park except reckoned park. the recipient. unbelievable. what is behind this? it is now approaching the 10th year. i want to know why. we must keep politics out of the
commission, if that is what is going on. try walking in my shoes. how would you feel if you worked tirelessly for this project and then you get no piece of paper in return? it is not a big deal. it is just a piece of paper. but to me, it means a lot, so i can show my grandchildren their future. life is a two-way street. is give-and-take. think of it as a goodwill investment that will pay you big, big dividends. i know that. so a little kindness goes a long way. so guys and gals, please do it. please? it just do it. thank you. >> thank you. >> nancy? >> i will now put on my hat as co-director as the professional dog walkers association has to
mclaren park. this may or may not be appropriate for mclaren, but it is definitely not compatible with the new outreach area where 10 of 18 holes are proposed. this would create conflict amongst dog owners and golfers. many professional dog walkers, in addition to dog owners, use one of the largest legal owned runs in the city. dogs being dogs will naturally want to chase the disk. people involved will be in danger of getting hit by disks weighing as much as one-third of a pound, averaging 25, 30 m.p.h. or more. that spca estimate is 40% of households own dogs. the need for this is critical. we, the professional dog walkers association, are in support of shared use, shared space with other recreational users, and many people without dogs walk in
these areas. but disc golf is not a good fit. thank you. >> can i ask a question? are you just post to that one area? otherwise, in mclaren park -- >> definitely, we are definitely opposed to it being with that area. and the majority of it is in that area. >> you have an opinion on other parts of mclaren? you don't have to speak for the group. and i personally? -- >> personally? no, i don't. i don't have an opinion. i am very torn, because i know some of the disc golfers and i have had discussions about this, and they are nice people. on the other hand, they already have one course in san
francisco, and there are other courses throughout the bay area. i am not sure. >> ok, i did not need to put you on the spot. thank you. >> thank you. >> is there anyone else would like to comment under general public comment? ok, public comment is closed on the item 25. item 21, public comment on all matters pertaining to closed session. it is there anyone who would like to comment on closed session? seeing none, public comment is closed. commissioners, we need to vote on whether to hold closed session. >> motion? >> so moved. >> all those in favor? >> aye. >> opposed? none. >> we need to ask everyone to please leave while we hold closed session